Human Rights spotlight to be put on new Irish laws

19.12.2014

TDs and Senators to review legislation with human rights perspective
Sub Committee will examine Justice and Equality legislation


Statement by Senator Katherine Zappone

Future Irish laws in the areas of Justice and Equality are to be examined to ensure they do not breach human rights, according to Independent Senator Katherine Zappone.

A sub-committee of the Oireachtas Justice Committee is being established to examine human rights matters. It will also ensure future laws do not violate the rights of individuals in matters related to Justice and equality and are in line with our international obligations.

The group will consist of three TDs and two Senators.

Senator Zappone added:

“The protection of human rights requires constant vigilance, in particular by those who make our laws. Earlier this year the United Nations found that as a country we are failing to meet obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

There was strong criticism of the impact of our policies and laws on women and children. There were concerns too about our treatment of minorities.

It is time now to learn from the mistakes of the past.

In April I proposed an extension of the remit of the Oireachtas Justice and Equality Committee to include human rights, following legal advice and political discussions we are now proceeding by establishing a special sub-committee.

In addition to examining human rights issues in the Justice and Equality area it will also review Schemes of Justice and Equality bills to ensure they do not violate our international commitments.

As someone who has campaigned on social justice issues I welcome the decision of my colleagues in taking this step. This new human rights perspective not only brings the Oireachtas into line with a growing international trend in parliaments but also with a recommendation of the Council of Europe.

On Wednesday (December 10th) International Human Rights Day will be marked with events worldwide. The theme this year is ‘Human Rights 365’ highlighting that everyday should be Human Rights Day – we have now taken a concrete step to ensure that in our parliament that is now the case.

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